EDGEMONT, N.Y. -- In terms of knowledge about green resources and initiatives, Brad Tito is bringing a lot to the table in his new role at The Westchester Community Foundation.
The 38-year-old Edgemont resident, recently elected to the foundation’s board of advisers, currently works at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERD) with communities to help them save energy and improve the environment.
The state agency, headquartered in Albany, has regional offices in New York City, Buffalo and West Valley.
Prior to working for the NYSERD, Tito worked in Yonkers with municipal leaders and community stakeholders on energy issues.
Tito, as director of sustainability from 2012-15, said he helped the city save more than $2 million in annual energy costs.
Among the initiatives he led was the replacement of the city’s 11,300 street lights with LED technology, the establishment of green building standards, and the replacement of more than 500 old windows with more energy efficient ones at Yonkers’ City Hall.
He was also the director of environmental coordination for Nassau County, He has also been an adjunct professor, developer of green homes, and was an assistant to Thomas R. Suozzi, a Long Island Democrat who ran, unsuccessfully, against Eliot Spitzer in the 2006 gubernatorial race.
The foundation is basically a conduit for donors, whether they are individuals or organizations, to hook up with nonprofit groups focused on issues in six broad areas, namely: the arts, environment, technical assistance, community development, health and youth development.
It holds endowed funds from living donors or estates and distributes them to organizations through a competitive grant process, or as directed by specific donors, said Tara Seeley, its program officer in the areas of community development, health, technical assistance and the environment.
According to Seeley, a few of the recent grants made through the foundation include one for the Bronx River Alliance, which aims to protect and manage water quality and one to the Mianus River Gorge Preserve, which also watches over water quality in Westchester.
Tito said that he had first heard of the foundation's work with nonprofits while employed by the city of Yonkers.
The city and New Rochelle were both looking for ways to cut costs associated with, for example, the disposal of fall leaves. With the foundation's help, their “Fall leaves: Love ‘Em, Leave ‘Em” initiative now encourages residents to mulch their leaves instead of raking them to the curb for the city to cart away.
Yonkers spends about $650,000 a year in "tipping fees" to take the leaves upstate where they are composted, Tito said.
Using a special mulching lawnmower chops leaves up so finely that they actually benefit lawns by becoming nutrients in the soil, he added.
Tito said, as a board member, he hopes to continue his focus on energy and the environment.
“There’s so much natural beauty in Westchester, and it’s important to preserve open spaces, not only for aesthetic reasons, but for an overall healthier environment,” Tito said.
The foundation’s mission, it says, is to both promote philanthropy and improve the quality of life in Westchester.
“Adding Mr. Tito to our board,” said advisory board chairwoman Theresa Kilman, “means we will have a fresh perspective on one of the most pressing issues in our county – environmental sustainability. We look forward to his insights and support.”